As an occasional procrastinator, I firmly believe this deeply misunderstood trait has a purpose in my life. I do not see procrastination as a character flaw. In fact, I trust that God appreciates a little quiet introspection, a little self-indulgent nap-taking, a time for twirling one’s hair instead of paying the bills or mopping the floor. I also trust that I’m less motivated to act and to do anything well when my mind simply needs to just be and to soak in the joys and trials of life in the moment. Carpe diem whenever it suits me works for me, just fine.
In the past few weeks, I haven’t written. I haven’t posted. I haven’t spoken to friends on the phone. I’ve simply stayed home and pondered, in full-throttle procrastination mode, without any particular destination, of course. Stuff got done, but nothing earth-shaking। Nothing I had “planned” to do was important enough to drive me crazy. Most importantly, no deadlines were missed as I procrastinated and pondered what to do next.
Now, you might say, pondering and procrastination are different. Maybe, maybe not. It’s true that I ponder when I am about to latch onto a new discovery, so it may frequently accelerate my overall goal, and thus cancel out any ‘procrastinatory’ effects.
Sometimes I procrastinate to ponder what I really would like to do, other than the thing I don’t wish to do but really should do at the moment. And then, Eureka, I am motivated to move forward with said goal because I actually figured out what I felt like doing next. It is a self-produced carrot and stick, courtesy of procrastination.
Best of all, it means I can get the unpleasant task out of the way and move onto greener pastures, until I am struck by another worthwhile task, such as separating tangled rubber bands in my desk drawer.
It’s like that for most people, I think. The reasons are complex and probably neurological. I suspect that researchers will one day discover that procrastinators who are creative geniuses often display many of the “pondering” traits I exhibit when I have to perform any unpleasant massive task (caulking the windows) or a tiny but relatively annoying and inconvenient one (fixing a light switch).
Until they prove that procrastinators are NOT simply refueling their minds, repurposing their energy, and reevaluating what is important to them, I’ll just forgive myself for leaving the trash cans on the curb for four days. I know I’ll get to them soon enough.
After all, I have thinking to do.